Jerry Romano sent me a short news clipping, “19 Entertainment owns the format rights to Pop Idol, here known as American Idol, and pulls in an estimated $1 billion annually in merchandising, ad sales, sponsorships, etc.” along with a simple personal message,”WOW!” What is more remarkable: the fact that American Idol is can gross $1B annually or the fact that it is a simple talent show with a slight twist?
I think the lesson to be learned from 19 Entertainment is that there is nothing more powerful than a simple, time-tested concept, well executed. Reinventing the wheel is fun, but perfecting the packaging is genius. We know the old adage, “Artists create, pros steal and genius steals from itself.” The international distribution and protection of the Idol format is truly genius and the revenue is simply a measure of how well the company has executed its plan.
There’s not much else to learn from this. Their success is unique to their team and execution. You can intellectualize the idea that you need to have a hit, but you can’t manufacture them. Hits have one component that can not be intellectualized … magic. You can call it what you want, but magic, an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source, will do just fine. Consumers make hits, not producers. So, kudos to 19 Entertainment for a job well done, but following their business plan will not guarantee you the same results.